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IA AG Secretary: Soybean Tariffs Could Impact Farmers, Affect Prices

April 06, 2018 07:21 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Iowa's new secretary of agriculture Friday said a proposed Chinese tariff on U.S. soybeans could have an immediate impact on local farmers.

Speaking to an agriculture leadership group in Sheffield, Secretary Mike Naig said markets are already reacting to the latest round of tariffs the Chinese government could put on U.S. goods.

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"Even though those tariffs may not take effect for a couple of weeks, our markets react in real time to the news and that can have an impact," he said.

The proposed tariffs are the latest in a back-and-forth sparring over trade. In late February, President Donald Trump proposed increased tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from China. In retaliation, China proposed tariffs on several U.S. goods, including pork.

Trump Friday morning tweeted that the aluminum tariff hasn't had the negative effects many feared.

"Despite the Aluminum Tariffs, Aluminum prices are DOWN 4%," he tweeted. "People are surprised, I’m not! Lots of money coming into U.S. coffers and Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!"

Iowa ranks second in the nation for soybean production, while Minnesota comes in third. In 2016, the Hawkeye state produced an estimated 560 million bushels of soybeans, nearly a third of which were exported to China.

Losing access to that market could be bad news for farmers, Naig said.

"Disrupting that market or reducing that market opportunity for us, that will absolutely have an impact on price," he said. "I think the real impact is just a disruption in that demand which can create disruption in the marketplace."

At Friday's White House press briefing, spokesperson Sarah Sanders said the president isn't backing down.

"The president is going to do something and be tough when no one was willing to do this. China created this problem," she said.

Naig agrees with Trump that there are legitimate concerns about the trading relationship between the U.S. and China but said he doesn't want to see farmers bear the brunt of the blowback, especially since the U.S. Department of Agriculture expects the average net cash farm income from soybean farms to decrease by 6.3 percent from 2017.

"We do not want to have a situation where agriculture becomes the target of retaliation," Naig said.

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Logan Reigstad

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